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Author and Agent

Eudora Welty and Diarmuid Russell

By (author) Michael Kreyling
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Bellew Publishing Co Ltd, London, United Kingdom
Published: 25th Jul 1991
Dimensions: h 240mm
Weight: 450g
ISBN-10: 0947792902
ISBN-13: 9780947792909
Barcode No: 9780947792909

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Kirkus US
The correspondence between Eudora Welty and her literary agent, Diarmuid Russell, results in a solid book, woven by Kreyling (English/Vanderbilt Univ.), that will perhaps become as well known as Maxwell E. Perkins's Editor to Author, but is less satisfying. This breaks new ground in showing the ties between a first-rate author and her agent but sets about it by producing a long text in which the letters are secondary to the commentary on them by Kreyling, who is no longer merely an editor adding notes to choice letters but rather the primary voice in the book - and an often academic voice at that. For younger readers, all this scene-setting about the publishing world of the 30's, 40's, 50's, and so on may be necessary; others who have lived through it will be unlifted by the memory. Welty began by selling - or placing - her stories in literary quarterlies, which often paid nothing or next to nothing. Only big-name story writers selling to the "slicks" could hope to make a living from their writing, and indeed Welty herself failed to be able to live off her writing until she was 61, in 1970. Russell, the son of famed Irish storyteller "A.E.," wrote to Welty in 1940 upon first opening his agency with Henry Volkening and John Slocum, asking the tyro to allow him to represent her. Welty, already a deep fan of Russell's father, felt fate to be guiding her and signed on, Russell held nothing back in going over her stories with her and helping shape them to fulfill their own inner logic or needs: he did not shape them for the market. Book publishers held back from accepting a book-length sheaf of stories, demanding a novel from her before the sure loss of a book of stories. It was only when Russell knocked down $100,000 for her from Random House for her novel Losing Battles (1970) that together they slew Moloch - though Russell died almost immediately thereafter. Discussing storywriting, Welty and Russell show great-hearted idealism and should move this book straight into readers' hearts. (Kirkus Reviews)